Water shed residents go to UN

Some parts of Verulam have been without water for 150 days, with residents calling it a humanitarian crisis.

Some parts of Verulam have been without water for 150 days, with residents calling it a humanitarian crisis.

Published Feb 25, 2024


Durban — The Verulam Water Crisis Committee has escalated their plea for potable water to the United Nations (UN).

Some parts of Verulam have been without water for 150 days, with residents calling it a humanitarian crisis.

Roshan Lil-Ruthan, the spokesperson for the committee, said their situation was dire and needed international intervention, saying that they have been failed by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

“The SAHRC counterparts are cosying up with the eThekwini Municipality and the government. They are entertaining the excuses that are being provided on a regular basis.”

Lil-Ruthan added: “Initially we were promised help. The SAHRC investigated and published a report for the municipality on what needed to be done but the municipality could not follow up with the repairs.

“eThekwini does not care about the reports or the direction of the human rights commission. The SAHRC initially threatened to take them to court but we have not seen any of that happening.

“We have sat through meeting after meeting and we only hear barks from the SAHRC but there is no bite. We decided that they have become too close for comfort and decided to take the matter international for human rights violations,” Lil-Ruthan said.

In its letter to the UN, the committee presented a detailed account of their plight, highlighting that since meeting with the SAHRC, their water woes had worsened.

“We were advised that there was a public hearing previously and that the SAHRC is monitoring compliance. In this period actually, the situation has worsened to a humanitarian catastrophe and we cannot abandon our community to a monitoring exercise. We need protection as the residents and citizens of South Africa living in Verulam and surrounding suburbs ... ”

Lil-Ruthan said the SAHRC had contacted the committee after they had written to the UN.

He said: “The SAHRC has suddenly issued a public hearing notice calling for all engineers and experts to attend a meeting on the 6th of March to help, offering solutions to the ongoing crisis.”

SAHRC KZN manager Pavershree Padayachee said that the SAHRC had since January undertaken various initiatives to address the water crisis. “The commission is particularly concerned that the metro has failed to meet its self-imposed deadline of 15 February,” said Padayachee.

“The commission in its inquiry report found that water services authorities, such as the metro, were in violation of the rights to access clean drinking water” said Padayachee.

“The commission is concerned that not much seems to be done to arrest this ongoing violation of the constitutional right to have access to water in the metro.

“The commission is doubtful that the metro has the capacity to turn this dire situation around. This is so, particularly given that a report indicates that the water and sanitation unit of the metro – which is a key vehicle in water provision – has no strategic business plan in place and is currently beset by a 52% vacancy rate,” said Padayachee.

She said a meeting was scheduled for March 6 to find solutions to the water challenges.

Sunday Tribune